The title is paraphrased from magistertom's question which was much longer, so here is his official question:
"Ephesians 5 says 'wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands'
Is this a cultural thing, or is this something that Christians should apply today? How should this apply in marriage? And how should this apply in a dating relationship?"
No, this is not a cultural thing. Yes, this is something that Christians should apply today in marriage and to a lesser degree, in their dating relationships.
So, first of all, I believe this is not a cultural thing because of the way the passage (Ephesians 5: 22-25) continues to say that:
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. "
Therefore, I feel that saying that women should submit to their husbands is a cultural thing, would by extension then mean that husbands loving their wives would be a cultural thing, which I'm sure we would agree is not true!
Is it something that should be applied in marriage? Well if it is not a cultural thing, then I would say definitely it should be applied, but both
parts must be applied. Although 1 Peter 3 says even if your spouse is not a Christian, you must still try to fulfill your God-given role.
But how would this be applied in marriage? I feel that although the woman should be submitting to her husband, this does not mean that the man does not listen or respect her opinion. The way my dad explained it to me when I was a lot younger (so bear with the simplification) is that they discuss everything, but my dad makes the final decision. With that, he also takes the blame if it was a bad decision, whether or not it was originally my mom's idea. In the same way, he can take credit, although the smart thing to do would be to acknowledge my mom's contribution.
If we look at what Ephesians 5 says, although the woman is to submit to their husband, the husband is to love her as Christ loved the Church, and Christ loved us so much, he took all our sins upon him, and died for them. He paid the debt we owed, and paved a way for us to enter into a great relationship with God.
Deviating from the passage and looking at 1 Peter 3: 1-2 (which Mark Driscoll has some awesome messages whose links I will stick at the bottom of the post), we can see what is expected of wives:
"In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over too by observing your pure and reverent lives."
However, to the husband Peter also says in 1 Peter 3:7:
"In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered."
So although women must submit to their husbands, husbands should also honor their wives. This means that the husbands, while leading and having their wives submit to them, should be doing so in a manner that honors their wives.
Within dating relationships, obviously this should be a bit different. For men, I try to submit to my boyfriend in small things, like where we go for dinner, or if he says he doesn't want me to wear a certain shirt or something. If he said don't go to this university, since we're not married, I would not submit to him in that, or at least not just because he said so. I think of it like this: when I get married, I am not all of a sudden going to be a super wonderful submissive wife (considering my independent and outspoken nature, whether I ever will become this is doubtful, but we can pray =P). Therefore, I should practice it now, at least in the smaller, less important things.
Even now, whenever my boyfriend asks me to submit to him (not quite in those words of course), it has mostly been for my benefit, because, like in the case of the shirt, I was attracting attention that I was unaware I was getting, and that he knew I did not want. In the cases where it wasn't, it didn't hurt me either, like where we go for dinner.
Naturally, in no situation, marriage or dating, do I approve of abuse, in any form.
I know a lot of people won't necessarily agree with me on this, and that's okay. If you are going to comment, whether it be in agreement or not, I ask that you be respectful, both to me, but also to other commenters.
Here are the Driscoll links I mentioned:
For women: http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/trial/marriage-and-women
For men: http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/trial/marriage-and-menWith that said, how do you feel about this issue? What does it mean to submit? What are the practical implications of this?